Payton seeks Parcells' counsel about Saints' plan

By Tim Reynolds

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, March 27 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

Also unclear: How much contact Payton will be able to have with the Saints during his suspension.

"I think it's easier with a player because it exists, in other words, that protocol exists," Payton said. "But this is different. So what specifically are the guidelines, and then let's make sure we follow them. I think that process will take place and we'll continue to communicate and really acquiesce to the league in regards to, 'Hey, how do you see these specific things being followed?'"

Much of the conversation revolved around Parcells, the two-time Super Bowl winner as a coach who hired Payton as an offensive assistant in Dallas in 2003 and was a finalist for the Hall of Fame this season.

"He's a great teacher," Payton said. "Certainly I'm biased, having worked with him. But he's a Hall of Fame head coach. And I would also say there's some things probably set up in the framework of our program that would be exactly how he would have set those things up had he been the head coach here in '06. So there's some carry-over that way."

If Parcells returned to the sideline, he may have to wait another five years before becoming eligible for the Hall of Fame again. Parcells, who turns 71 in August, may not want to wait that long. Asked by Sports Illustrated on Monday if he had a desire to coach another team, Parcells said, "I don't think so."

In addition to the suspensions for Payton and Loomis, the league suspended assistant head coach Joe Vitt for six games. Goodell also fined the Saints $500,000 and took away second-round draft choices in 2012 and 2013.

Goodell acknowledged on Monday that "non-contract bonus payments" — such as bounties — have been found around the league. The commissioner insisted the practice would be discontinued.

Arthur Blank, owner of NFC South rival Atlanta, praised Goodell's strong punishment.

"I think he dealt with it appropriately," Blank told ESPN.com. "I think it will be one of the most significant decisions he'll ever make as the commissioner. I think he'll be the commissioner for the next 30 years and I think people will look back and say he sent a message to the teams, the players, the coaches, everybody in the NFL and sent a message to the fans that, 'This is not what we're going to have in this league.' "

Payton would not argue he was being scapegoated.

"No, I accept this," Payton said. "I've heard that argument and I think trying to really look closely at how we and how I can improve has been probably a better way for me to handle this than to kind of vent or look outwardly at other programs. I try to take that approach."

For a franchise that dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and then captured its first Super Bowl four seasons later, now comes more tumult of the self-inflicted variety.

Payton said he first learned of the bounty program at the end of that Super Bowl season. He said Tuesday he didn't want this chapter to "taint or tarnish" the team's recent success.

"We'll get through this," Payton said. "This will be a challenge. ... You know, we've gone through a lot of adversity and we've won a lot of games in really a short window of time. And I know our players are leaders both within the locker room and the coaching staff will look at this as a challenge and a little bit as an opportunity."

AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner in Palm Beach and AP Sports Writer Brett Martel in New Orleans contributed to this story.

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